"florence" Florence by doug48
Florence Travel Guide: 5,035 reviews and 11,002 photos
pictured is the campanile of the palazzo vecchio. it is located on the piazza della signoria in the heart of florence. most of the sights of florence is walking distance from this point.
the medici family ruled florence and tuscany almost continuously from 1434 until 1743. the medici dynasty began with giovanni di bicci (1360-1429). his son, cosimo il vecchio began the rule of florence by the medici family. the medici were wealthy bankers and merchants. the round "balls" on the medici coat of arms is the inspiration for the balls on pawn shop signs. the medici's were great patrons of the arts and collectors of ancient books and manuscripts. on several occasions some ambitious florentines tried to over throw the regime. during the rule of lorenzo "the maginificent" (1449-1492) the rival pazzi family tried to assassinate him. the plot failed and lorenzo executed the conspirators and hung their bodies from the windows of the bargello and the palazzo vecchio as a warning to those who would challenge medici rule. in 1554 cosimo I commissioned cellini to forge a bronze statue of of perseus holding medusa's severed head as a warning to rivals to the medici dynasty. in 1494 pietro di medici fled florence to avoid the advancing troops of charles VIII of france. during this absence a religious fundamentalist named girolamo savonarola took over as the ruler of florence. he believed in piety and poverty and during his rule the economy of florence collapsed. in 1498 the population of florence rose up against him and burned him at the stake in the piazza della signoria. there is marker on the spot of his execution in the piazza today. the medici family produced two popes, giovanni di medici (pope leo X) and giulio di medici (pope clement VII). in 1560 duke cosimo I built the uffizi to serve as office for the adminstration of tuscany. it also served as gallery for the medici art treasures thus creating the oldest art gallery in the world. across the ponte vecchio on the other side of the arno river is the palazzo pitti the residence of the medicis since 1550. in the rear of the palazzo is the famous boboli gardens.
a visit to florence would not be complete with out seeing the uffizi gallery. the uffizi is located next to the palazzo vecchio. it was the best collection of italian renaissance art in the world. at the uffizi you can see the works of da vinci, raphael, lippi, francesca, michelango, titian, and botticelli. two of botticelli's masterpieces on display are "the birth of venus" 1485 and the "primavera" also known as the allegory of spring 1480. the statue of michelangelo's "david" at the piazza della signoria is a copy. the original was moved to the accdemia museum in 1873. another great art museum in florence is the bargello. the bargello was built in 1255 as florence's first town hall. in the 16th century it was converted into a prison. some of the famous works that can be seen at the bargello are michelandgo's "bacchus". donatello's "david" and "mercury" by giambologna. finally, if you have the time visit the museo di storia della scienza. this museum has an interesting collection of old globes and maps and numerous old measuring and astronomical devices. the main attraction of the museum are telescopes used by galilco galilei (galileo).
the florence duomo, (pictured), dominates the skyline with it's enormous dome. the dome was designed by brunelleschi. the out side of the cathedral is clad with white, green, and pink tuscan marble. the smaller round building next to duomo is the baptistry. this chapel is known for lorenzo ghiberti's famous doors. these bronze doors show bible stories and were commissioned in 1401 to celebrate florence's deliverance from the plague. the doors on the outside of the baptistry are copies. the originals can be seen at the museo dell' opera del duomo. a must see church in florence is santa croce. santa croce was built in 1294 and contains the tombs of many famous florentines. some notables entombed here are michelangelo, galileo, ghiberti, leonardo bruni and machiavelli. these tombs are magnificent works of renaissance sculpture. also be sure to see the bardi and peruzzi chapels in the left corner of the church. these chapels are decorated with giotto frescoes. another church worth visiting is san lorenzo. this was the church of the medici family. the entrance to san lorenzo has a plain brick facade but once you enter the church you will be surprised by it's beauty. the high lights of san lorenzo are the medici tombs by michelangelo, the michelangelo staircase, and the donatello pulpits.
an excellent book about florence is, the house of medici, it's rise and fall, christopher hibbert, pub: perennial/harper collins.
an excellent guide book, florence & tuscany, dk eyewitness travel guides, (www.dk.com.)
pictured is the cenotaph of the famous florentine writer and poet dante. dante died in 1321 in ravenna italy. the... more travel advice
palazzo pitti was built in 1457 for the banker luca pitti. this massive palace bankrupted the pitti family and they sold... more travel advice
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